Controversial Russian president Vladimir Putin has said he doesn't think World War III will happen – but only because he believes the West cannot win.
As a response to recent reports – which the UK has denied – that Russia had fired a warning shot at a British Royal Navy warship in the Black Sea and a warplane dropped bombs in front of it, Putin discussed the possibility of global warfare.
Russia claimed the Royal Navy warship had entered their waters, but the UK insists it was carrying out an "innocent passage".
Putin claimed that Russia sinking the ship wouldn't have resulted in the outbreak of World War III – because the West know they couldn't "emerge as victors" against the biggest country in the world.
As reported by Reuters, Putin told a call-in show: "Even if we had sunk the ship it is hard to imagine that the world would have been on the verge of World War Three because those doing it (the provocation) know that they could not emerge as victors from such a war."
He accused the US and Britain of planning the episode together, saying an American spy plane had taken off from Greece earlier on the same day to watch how Russia would respond to the British warship.
Putin said: "It was obvious that the destroyer entered (the waters near Crimea) pursuing, first of all, military goals, trying to use the spy plane to see how our forces would stop such provocations, to see what is activated and where, how things work and where everything is located."
He claimed Russia had realised what the aim of the exercise was and had responded in a way that would only give the other side the information Moscow deemed necessary.
Following the incident, the Ministry of Defence tweeted: “No warning shots have been fired at HMS Defender.
“The Royal Navy ship is conducting innocent passage through Ukrainian territorial waters in accordance with international law.
“We believe the Russians were undertaking a gunnery exercise in the Black Sea and provided the maritime community with prior warning of their activity.
“No shots were directed at HMS Defender and we do not recognise the claim that bombs were dropped in her path.”
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